This weekend the curtain will rise on Santa Clara Showtime and it will be time to pay another visit to Doomstown—Santa Clara’s parallel universe, a perennial backdrop for the most iniquitous villainy and a place of peril for orphaned ingénues.
Since the beginning of January, Showtime’s thespians have been hard at work, rehearsing this year’s original melodrama, Pirates and the Perils of Penelope—or—Locked Up Loot, written by Showtime veteran producer, author, actor and jack-of-all trades Rick Mauck and directed by longtime Showtime actor and director Robin Burdick
The curtain opens on the infant Penelope (Laura Velasco), her mother (Janis Parenzin) and her soon-to-be-late villain of a grandfather father (the versatile Arlene Rose, who plays three roles in the show) who bequeaths her a treasure map—in the form of freckle tattoos.
Meanwhile pirate captain Blackheart (John Peterson) tries to keep his crew from jumping ship for the new Amazon operation in Alviso (a Showtime insider joke) by promising his crew rich rewards from the treasure reputed to be buried in Doomstown. Blackheart inveigles Penelope and her epidermal treasure map into getting on board and sets sail with his band of reprobates, including Martha Stew Art (Roseann LaCoursiere) who has plans for upscaling pirate dining with her artisanal hardtack.
Meanwhile, to raise money to finish building the city jail—as a former Santa Clara Streets Superintendent, Mauck takes a special interest in public works projects—Doomstown plans a pirate-themed art and wine festival.
The townspeople are rigged out in their pirate costumes when the real pirates land, and everything is confusion until the Sheriff (Rick Mauck) brings the bad guys to justice (until next year) and the treasure—which turns out to be buried under the jail—allows Penelope to marry her handsome but penniless sweetheart, Christopher Goodman (Andrew Hyatt).
Sponsored by the Santa Clara Women’s League, Showtime was the brainchild of longtime community activist and journalist Cleo Stuckrath after 1979’s Proposition 13 sent local public services to “walk the plank.”
For 25 years Stuckrath was Showtime’s playwright, producer, promoter, production manager, casting director, stage director, set designer, wardrobe mistress, choreographer, prop master and chronicler.
Stuckrath was a indefatigable—some would say relentless—promoter, and a key part of her MO was getting public officials to appear in Showtime, including several generations of police chiefs. Public officials who declined to take a turn on stage were likely to find their absences publicly noted in her weekly column, Cleo’s Corner, which appeared in the Santa Clara Journal and, later, the Santa Clara American and Santa Clara Weekly.
Over the years the event has raised more than $500,000 to support the Santa Clara Senior Center’s Health and Wellness program through ticket sales and raffle prizes.
The curtain rises on Pirates and Perils on Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. for pre-show entertainment and 7:00 p.m. for the melodrama, and on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. for the pre-show and 2:00 p.m. for the melodrama.
All performances are at the Community Recreation Center, 969 Kiely Blvd. in Santa Clara. Admission is $7.00 and proceeds benefit the Santa Clara Senior Center Health and Wellness program. Tickets are available at the Santa Clara Senior Center, 1303 Fremont St. For more information, visit www.SantaClaraShowtime.net or call (408) 615-3170.
In the interest of full disclosure: I will be appearing in Showtime.